Inside his studio at the Inscape Buildling, Michael Cepress is building a dream. In his fitting room and atelier, clients stand near an east-facing window while the textile junkie and fit master reimagines, reshapes, and pins and preps their trousers and dresses. In his studio two floors down, he drapes hammered silks and muted-tone ikats amid highly collectible cult '70s fashion zines, Oddfellows collars and other Americana oddities, and inspiring images of beautiful souls from throughout history and around the world.
The work from one room pays the bills, the work from the other propels him forward.
But Cepress, a studied designer, fine artist, and popular UW professor, is looking to change that. With his current Kickstarer campaign, he hopes to raise the funds to produce and distribute a men's and women's collection in 2013.
Heavily researched and impeccably patterned, draped, and tailored, the collection draws from what he calls "counter couture;" underground hippy threads both complex and easy to wear. Visiting with the designer and holding the exceptionally rendered garments in my hands, the campaign felt promising—just as biking-in-the-rain designer Ann Deotte and her Kickstarter campaign did.
Deotte raised almost twice her goal in the December victory.
"I went through moments of extreme confidence and doubt, though I knew deep down that I could reach my goal of $15,000," Deotte told me. "I crunched all the numbers and looked at different backer combinations before settling on the final goal. I also felt confident that I could reach a broader audience, having strong connections to bike and lifestyle bloggers as well as contacts through my 2011 Daily Candy Start Small, Go Big win."
Looking to raise funds via what Cepress calls the "modern wonder" of Kickstarter? Check Deotte's analysis of her success.
"We are committed to developing and maintaining a strong brand and look, from editorial quality photographs and video to clear narratives about our mission and products. I quickly became a featured Seattle project [on the site, which] drew in 62 percent of my pledges. Two days in we were a Staff Pick for Fashion and a week in they featured us in their Fresh Air newsletter. The newsletter feature drew in almost 40% of our pledges," the designer said.
"I also believe that our campaign was successful because we are providing solutions not yet on the market," she continued, and pointed out that fashion is underrepresented on Kickstarter in general. "By including our products as our rewards, our backers received the joy of supporting a new idea, but they also get to be early adopters and brand advocates."
Early adopters, brand advocates, and those who support Seattle style would do well to check out Cepress's video and consider giving the campaign a shot in the arm.